Written by Naima Rashid
Art Dubai’s ninth edition confirms its grasp of the global game it set out to play. Along with well-established international players, including those from the Middle East and South Asia, the galleries participating in this year’s Modern and Contemporary section alone covered regions as diverse as Africa, Eastern Europe and Australia. Being a global player today no longer means ticking off all the countries on the world map. It means, more than anything else, the ability to provide a level-playing field to all actors, and this inclusive mindset is what sets the fair apart. Returning galleries at the fair have had the time to hone their game and build on the lessons drawn in the course of their earlier participation. Among these, sales were steady at New York’s Aicon Gallery, a regular at the fair since 2008. This year, the gallery showed four Pakistani artists. The works had a decorative touch to them and were very likely to appeal to the sensibilities of the Middle East. The uncontested press darling was a work by Aneela Qayyum Agha called ‘Sublime Light’ – a large, suspended stainless steel square with latticed walls and a light shining from within, reflecting outwards in the form of intricate geometric shadows. It was a limited edition of five, of which three were sold to Middle Eastern collectors starting at US$ 65,000 a piece. “They have big houses here. This is the perfect decoration piece,” the gallery’s representative tells me.